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-   -   UWOL #15 - An Irish Wild-Goose Chase - by Mike Beckett (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/uwol-challenge/466887-uwol-15-irish-wild-goose-chase-mike-beckett.html)

Mike Beckett October 31st, 2009 03:02 PM

UWOL #15 - An Irish Wild-Goose Chase - by Mike Beckett
2 Attachment(s)
First, let's get the excuses out of the way:

- not enough time (for filming)
- bad filming weather (grey, dark, miserable, wet)
- ended up with one day of filming
- I stuffed up the exposure and ND filters
- got a lot of underexposed and flat images
- nice panoramic shots, straight into the sun (I wanted to come back at sunset, but it, er, rained)
- messed up focus at times with my new SockLoupe (I'm not used to it yet)
- voiceover is still an incredibly painful process for me
- managed to misread the tides and not get close enough to any birds!

Whinge, whinge, whinge!

But anyway, on with the show:

Every year, around this time, a great migration takes place. Around 20,000 Pale-bellied Brent Geese migrate from the Arctic circle to Strangford Lough, a tidal lough on the Irish Sea coast of Northern Ireland.

The migration got a lot of coverage on local TV and radio as well, which is where I got the idea. Every time I set up camera in a public place I would get a small group of well-meaning hangers-on, who presumed the man with the furry mic and headphones new what he was doing and would ask questions (not helping my audio capture woes). I don't like having an audience while I work! I should've taken a photo of them. But it was fun, all very aimiable.

There's loads of mudflats, inlets, little islands (submerged hills called "Drumlins"), and it's a great place for wildlife. At least, it normally is, until I point a camera at it, then they all disappear. Hence the "Wild-Goose Chase" title.

So, I've scraped together the best story I could get with the limited time and footage I had available. It's all SD, no HD here yet. Add some cheesy Oirish music and you've got my UWOL entry!

Password: uwolweb

Low res .MOV file (38MB - same as the one uploaded to UWOL):

High res .MOV file (78MB):


Strangford Lough website: Strangford Lough
Wikipedia Entry: Strangford Lough - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Google Maps link: Strangford Lough - Google Maps (Fantastic - I didn't even know there was a place called Ballywatticock!)

P.S. I upgraded my voiceover location from the closet to the "edit suite". Compare the before and after pictures! I get a chair now, I used to have to squat on the floor in there.

Trond Saetre November 1st, 2009 05:13 AM

Hi Mike,
This was entertaining. Nice VO.
So the Irish wildlife is allergic to cameras too? I had the same problem, except that I think the wildlife here was hiding from me, and not only my camera this round.

I see the file size is a bit lower than the 60MB limit. I would try to only compress the video enough to get it within the limit to keep the image quality as good as possible. (I was watching the "low res" version by the way)

You had an entertaining video, and I enjoyed watching.
I look forward to your next one.

Mike Sims November 1st, 2009 07:00 AM

Mike- Iím glad this wild goose chase didnít come to naught! Even with all your problems youíve put together a very respectable video. Even the overcast shots are beautiful. I agree with you. I donít like an audience either. At one point when I was shooting the polecam sequences for my Long Form entry I had three cars following me. When I stopped to check the camera one pulled up and a lady asked me- ďAre you a storm chaser?Ē I looked around the wide open west Texas skies with not a single hint of a cloud and said- ďNo maíamĒ She didnít seem convinced.

I like the shots of your VO rig. By putting the mic in a corner youíve essentially set up an LEDE recording studio! The results are good.

Mike Beckett November 1st, 2009 07:45 AM

Thanks for the kind comments guys.

Mike - I love that, you'd be the world's least successful (or most optimistic) storm chaser!

Trond - I was just happy to get a result that looked relatively clean that I forgot all about stretching the quality up to the 60MB mark! At least next time it will be less hassle now that I know the secrets of Premiere CS3 rendering.

All I need is some time now to view all the other entries. I hope to get to that later today when I get some me time.

Edit: also, on re-listening, the audio levels are maybe a bit wrong, the voiceover is a bit "bassy" and could be toned down a notch. I listened to it via monitoring headphones and not speakers when I was working on it.

You do live and learn...

Rich Ryan November 1st, 2009 08:44 AM


A really nice effort. You may find the voice over painful, but you do an excellent job. You have a nice engaging voice. The music selection was perfect! But I did notice a bit of clipping in the music during the opening (at least on the Vimeo version).

The video was fine, there were some nice shots and the color was good.

Do the geese numbers regularly vary or is this year an anomaly?

Mike Beckett November 1st, 2009 12:16 PM

Hi Rich,

You could be right about the clipping, I'm not sure. I need to brush up on my audio skills now that I've got beyond the compression hurdle. It's only taken me about 4 or 5 UWOL challenges to work that one out!

The geese are pretty consistent every year, around 20,000 or so. I was talking to some of the wildlife observers at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust reserve I visited and they confirmed that numbers were down, but they had no idea why at this stage.

As I understand it, the geese will winter at various other locations around the British Isles, so maybe they sensed a bad Irish winter ahead of them and headed further south.

Chris Swanberg November 1st, 2009 04:44 PM


To start the images were pastoral and a complete delight. Your VO was subdued and matched the images and theme perfectly. Nice script writing as well.

You attention to sound was evident, one exception already noted. Overall, one of the better audio tracks this round.

I thoroughly enjoyed your story, and the entire presentation.

I really liked the VO, but then who can argue with a good Irish accent?


Chris S.

Bob Thieda November 2nd, 2009 08:08 AM


Lovely shots, lovely area....I loved the opening long shots....

I don't know why you are not happy with our VO, it is very nice. You do a good job with it.

Closer shots of the birds would have been nice, but we all wish for that, don't we?

Oliver Pahlow November 2nd, 2009 10:25 AM


Very nice shots. You certainly had plenty of wild life to shoot. You called it Lough. Is that the same as Loch like Lochness? Your voice over setup has given me some ideas. I had to use a heavy blanket drapped over me and the microphone to get rid of any reverb effects. Super.

Finn-Erik Faale November 2nd, 2009 01:24 PM

I think you have made a fine film. Your narrating and music choice give the film the right atmosphere.

Mike Beckett November 2nd, 2009 01:56 PM

Thanks for the kind words, I'm glad you enjoyed the film. And it makes me feel a bit less bad about the voiceover!

One problem I had was I could've stayed up on that mountain all day, watching the changing scenery, with the mist, clouds and suns - a time lapse would've been brilliant. But I had to find some birds!

Thanks! One of these days I'll get a long lens! The voiceover itself isn't bad (I just need to work with the levels a bit), but I don't like the recording process - so many takes! I was actually sweating by the end of that process. I communicate with people in the UK and USA every day at work, but when I know I'm being recorded I fall apart mentally!

I got the idea for the voiceover boxes I've seen - such as the Harlan Hogan one. I didn't fancy buying one, so I improvised - two foam rubber sheets and a furry towel, and stuck my Zoom H4 on a Gorillapod to act as a mic stand. The mic is off to one side so I don't breathe on it too much, and the PC is turned off to avoid fan noise. "It might even work," I thought!

In future, I would like some more foam, so I should start looking in shops now.

As for "Lough" - this is the Anglicised version of the Scottish "Loch", I think, although it's not a word or spelling I've heard used to describe anywhere outside of Ireland.

We just like the "hhhh" sound on the end, it confuses the tourists.

Thanks for the kind words, I'm glad you like the film. Maybe I should've taken a fish tank with me to get some more shots of wildlife!

Dale Guthormsen November 2nd, 2009 02:42 PM


first, you tell a good tale!! I liked the story line to be certain. while the images were distant you still sold the goods on your story which is great. I loved the pan of the coast!!

The only thing that lead me astray was the blocking (large pixelization I reckon or a compression issue) of the sky about 2/3 through!! It kind of distracted me from a great story!!!

Good JOb, thanks for sharing and taking the time!!

Mike Beckett November 2nd, 2009 03:20 PM


Was that at about 1:38 in the video? Can you confirm that? And was it the Vimeo version or the small Quicktime?

I hadn't noticed that, it's odd. Maybe my color correction went a bit off there. You live and learn! I probably could work more on the compression, now that I have surmounted the resize issues in CS3.

Dale Guthormsen November 2nd, 2009 07:59 PM

I clicked on the 78 mb version, and it is when the brandt are on the water and you talk about the airport.

Mike Beckett November 3rd, 2009 02:48 AM

Thanks Dale, I'll check that out.

Oh, and the nice pan of the shoreline, that shot was actually reversed in editing to make it flow better. From that distance you can't tell that the cars in the distance are going the wrong way!

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